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5 Alternative Ways of Doing a Roll Call


If you are anything like me, you will find the traditional way of conducting a roll call or name call time consuming and a little boring. Reading names aloud from a list with the students responding in a lifeless manner is a less than ideal way of starting a class. Don’t get me wrong, it is important for many of us teachers to carefully check attendance in each class, but we also don’t want to waste valuable class time doing so.



Over the years, I have observed teachers trying inventive and interesting ways of doing a roll call. Many of them have incorporated the roll call as part of the class. I have seen others delegate the responsibility to students. In this post, I will share a few of the ones that I have either seen or experimented with. Of course, if you have your own interesting or effective way of doing a name call, please add a comment in the box below.



The group name call

This works well earlier on in the semester, or if you have a group of learners who don’t know each other’s names that well. First, the teacher organizes the class into random groups, and each group is asked to assign a leader. It is the leader’s responsibility to ask each group member his or her name and memorize it. Then, in turn, each group leader reports to the teacher who is in their group. The teacher then simply checks off each student.



The group name call 2.0

This follows the same principle of the previous name call. As above, the teacher organizes the class into random groups, and each group is asked to assign a leader. This time the each group member must tell the leader their name and an interesting fact about themselves. For example, a group member might tell the leader, “My name is Ken and I used to be the captain of the soccer team in elementary school”. Once again, each group leader reports to the teacher who is in their group and this time reports the interesting fact about them. Once more, the teacher then can check off each student.



The organizational name call

Depending on the class size, this can be done as a class, or in larger classes, in groups. The teacher first explains to the class that they are going to have to organize themselves into a line. The teacher can vary how they are organized. For example, the teacher might ask the class (or group) to organize themselves by height starting with the tallest member. The class (or group) then have to discuss and organize themselves ranging from the tallest person in the class or group to the shortest. Once they have successfully done this, the tallest person begins by saying, “My name is Ken and I am 175cm tall”. The second person would then follow until they reach the shortest person in the class or group.



The scavenger hunt name call

This involves some preparation before class. First, write a list of all the class members and put them onto cards (If you have a laminator, then it is easier to reuse them). Before class, hide the name cards around the room. When the students come in to the class, they have to find their name card and bring it to the teacher. There is not much language involved but this can certainly make a lively start to a class.



The name card name call

This roll call involves the students making a name card. First, ask the students to write the name they want to be called in the middle section. Then, ask them to exchange name cards with their partner. They should then draw a picture that represents their partner on their name card. It doesn’t have to be a drawing of the person. Anything is okay. Later in the first class, they exchange papers with another partner and complete the first section. The bottom section is there for students to write a message to the teacher. After each class, I will collect these and update my attendance records. Then, at the start of the next class, I will distribute the cards to class keeping any cards of students that are absent.


If you have any fun or interesting ways of doing the roll call, please leave a comment in the box below.


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Neil Millington
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